The Queen known as Bloody Mary, Mary Tudor, was the only child of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon. Raised with the belief she would one day be queen, abandon by her ruthless father, and lost without her pious mother, Mary made history for being one of the most violent monarchs in history.
The Spanish Infant
Mary was born February 18, 1516. She was the first living child of her parents union. They had been trying for an heir for fifteen years with little success and plenty of heartaches. Henry was tired of waiting for an heir and Catherine was worrying about her ability to carry a child to term. Mary was a joy to her mother and hope for her father, but it was short lived, for she would remain their only living child. For the most part Mary had a wonderful childhood, bull of love and attention, until 1533, when her mother’s marriage was annulled her father married a new queen, Anne Boleyn.
The Lady Mary
After the rise of Anne Boleyn Mary’s position changed drastically. Anne, who felt Mary was a threat to her future children, did everything in her power to belittle the princess. Princess Mary became the Lady Mary and she was forced to wait as a servant on her half-sister, Elizabeth. Though Mary was strong willed, the threats on her life and continued mistreatment became too much. Eventually she submitted to her father’s will and declared herself a bastard, making her life no easier, but somewhat pleasing Anne. Her life would not improve until 1536, when Anne was beheaded.
Mary had a succession of stepmothers. The second stepmother, Jane Seymour, gave birth to Mary’s first brother, changing the line of succession. Now, Mary was second in line for the throne, a fact that upset her. Jane soon died though and Mary was given another stepmother, Anne of Cleaves, who she liked greatly. However that marriage was short lived and her next stepmother, Katherine Howard, was six years younger than her. Mary was angry about this, but the marriage was short lived and her final stepmother was wonderful, despite the fact that she was a heretic in Mary’s eyes. This would be Mary’s final stepmother, for her father died , 1547, leaving her nine year old brother to rule.
Two Monarchs to Live Through
Edward, also a Protestant, set into motion an Act of Uniformity, which Mary defied and she continued to celebrate Mass. Edward would struggle with his sister over this issue for the rest of his reign, but he would not win.
Edward however, did intend to make a change. Knowing he was growing sick, and being manipulated by his advisors, Edward changed the succession so his crown would pass over his half-sisters and fall to his cousin Jane, who was also a Protestant.
When Edward died, in 1553, the crown passed to Jane and she became Queen of England. Mary at the time was growing an army of supporters, knowing she would have to take her crown by force. When Mary received news that her brother was for sure dead, she sent proclamations throughout her country to declare herself as the rightful queen. Her number of supporters increased during this time, all believing she was their rightful queen.
The Privy Council, realizing what they had done and the error they had made (along with the price they would pay) announced Mary the true Queen of England and she left to claim her throne in London. Mary executed two conspirators right away and later executed her own cousin, Jane. This was the beginning of her bloody reign.
False Pregnancies and a Bloody Terror
Mary soon married her Spanish cousin, Phillip of Spain. Mary fell in love with his portrait and thought the marriage would strengthen her attempts to return England to Catholicism. Shortly after her marriage, a physician announced the Queen was pregnant. With the hope of a child, Mary felt a renewed rigor to restore her country to the true faith. Mary returned land to the monasteries her father had destroyed and restored heresy laws that allowed killing heretics.
Mary arrested several holy men and put them on trial, then burned them at the stake. Mary burned 275 people during her reign, only causing more people to grow to hate her.
While her country began to despise her Mary retreated to give birth to her child. She waited for her labor pains but they never came and by July 3rd, a month after her due date, Mary grew very worried. With embarrassment, Mary exited the chamber and signs of pregnancy disappeared, though no one pointed out the lack of a child.
Mary came out of confinement with a new vigor for burning heretics. She continued on her rampage until discovering she was pregnant again in 1557. She entered confinement and February of 1558 only to discover in April that she was again mistaken.
A Sick Queen
After her second false pregnancy the queen became incredibly ill. She drifted in and out of consciousness and made her will for succession, naming her sister as the heir. On November 16, 1558 Mary died, leaving behind a legacy of blood and destruction.